The third time was not a charm for the White Rock Christian Academy Warriors Saturday night.
The Walnut Grove Gators atoned for two January tournament losses to the Warriors by upending White Rock 73-64 in the final of the 2013 Fraser Valley Senior Boys AAA Basketball Championship tourney in Langley.
The win over top-seeded WRCA vaults the Gators to the top of the senior boys AAA pecking order for the provincial tournament that gets underway March 12 at the Langley Events Centre.
"We had won two in a row against them and it's awfully hard to win three in row against a top-ranked team," said Warriors coach Dale Shury.
"The important thing that I told our guys afterward is that this was the last game of the year where we didn't have to win. By making it to the Valley final, it basically guaranteed us one of the top four seeds for the provincials."
The Warriors reached the Fraser Valley final by knocking off Abbotsford's W.J. Mouat 67-51 in a semifinal round game Friday that doubled as a rematch of the 2011 Valley junior boys final.
White Rock jumped out to a 34-28 halftime lead and extended that advantage in each of the final two quarters to cruise to the win.
Point guard Tyus Allen led the way with 24 points.
Saturday's final was a much different story as the Gators watched a 40-28 lead at the break evaporate as the Warriors stormed back to tie the game early in the fourth quarter. Unfortunately for White Rock, the Gators regained their composure in the fourth quarter and pulled away to a nine-point win.
"The big key in that game was they went to the (free-throw) line 14 times and we went to the line four times," Shury said. "We just weren't assertive enough in getting the ball inside as much as we want to draw those fouls. The guys were somewhat tentative."
Allen and Vartan Tanelian were each named to the first all-star team while Sam Ykema was a second team selection.
Elsewhere, the Enver Creek Cougars survived a gauntlet of win-or-go-home games to qualify for the provincials as the Fraser Valley's sixth seed.
After being pushed to the brink with a quarter-final loss to White Rock Christian, the Cougars won elimination games over Gleneagle (70-48) and Pitt Meadows (55-43) before dropping a 70-57 decision to Sardis in the fifth-place game Saturday.
One team noticeable by its absence in the list of Valley teams heading to the provincials is the Tamanawis Wildcats. Ranked fourth in the province for much of the season, the Wildcats were eliminated with a 59-39 loss to Pitt Meadows Thursday.
© Copyright 2013